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Peter Carey/The Music Instinct/Gwyneth Lewis/Catcher in the Rye

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 01 February 2010

Matthew Sweet talks to novelist Peter Carey. Having won two Booker prizes for his novels Oscar and Lucinda and The True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey will be discussing his latest novel, Parrot and Olivier in America. The novel is set in formative America as the two eponymous heroes - one a printer's son from Devon, the other a French aristocrat form an 'unlikely and everlasting bond' after being displaced from revolutionary France and the Old World. The book is described as an improvisation on the life of Alexis De Tocqueville - the great French Chronicler of American democracy - and provides a timely exploration of the emergence of America and American ideas about democracy and freedom in theory and in practice.

Science writer Philip Ball's new book, The Music Instinct, discusses how listening to music is more than hearing it, and enjoying it; we are performing a cognitive feat of astounding complexity. He also argues that we all have an instinct for music and it's a part of what makes us human. Musicologist Grenville Hancox talks about Philip's latest research, and how music can impact upon our mental health.

And the first Welsh Poet Laureate, Gwyneth Lewis, reads from her book length poem A Hospital Odyssey, a surreal fantasy voyage through illness and healing.

It's set in a hospital basement, known in the poem as The Other World. The epic confronts her husband's battle with cancer through mythical confrontations with characters from knights and physicians to the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan.

After the death of JD Salinger last week, guests Bidisha and the historian Diane Purkiss discuss how the protagonist of Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield, established an adolescent voice that still lingers, and ask how adolescents are developing in film and literature.

  • Parrot and Olivier in America

    Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America is published by Faber.

  • The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It

    Philip Ball's The Music Instinct is published by Bodley Head.

  • A Hospital Odyssey

    Gwyneth Lewis's A Hospital Odyssey is published by Bloodaxe.


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